10 Simple Composition Tips to Make Better Photos

Practical tips to inspire you:

1. Orange and blue complementary colors

Get more epic colors shooting at sunset (the light becomes more orange, and the sky is bluer). Also experiment with -1 or -2 exposure compensation when shooting.

2. Assymetric composition

When shooting, look at the corners of your frame. Get the diagonals or the shapes and forms of the photo to be off-center.

Remember, symmetry is boring.

Also with your subject, place them off-center (top left, top right):

3. Framing/leading lines

When photographing your subject, put them in-between a frame, to add more focus to them. Bonus points if they turn their elbow into a triangle or diagonal:

4. Abstract imagery

Woman through dotted window decal. Kyoto, 2017

Shoot through windows, blurry or obscured surfaces, anything that will make your photos more abstract.

5. Curve composition

Curved leg selfie when lying in bed. Saigon, 2017

Curved composition makes the image more dynamic (think racing tracks that are curved and arabesque shaped).

6. 3 rectangles in your frame

Shoot a scene, and include 3 rectangles:

Got the idea from Henri Cartier-Bresson (via Adam Marelli)

Henri Cartier-Bresson / MEXICO. Natcho Aguirre. Santa Clara.1934.

7. Repeating forms

If you see repeating forms, shoot it. For example this photo with the repeating white boxes:

8. High angle perspective (hold your camera high up in the air, and shoot downwards)

To simplify your background and also to make a more unique perspective, hold your camera high in the air and point downwards:

9. Fibonacci Spiral composition

Photograph subjects in a stairwell to do the Fibonacci Spiral composition:

10. Extreme darks / shadows

Fill the frame with more black and shadows to make a more extreme minimalist composition:


Kyoto, 2017

Ultimately I think photography and art is all about composition. Some more simple ideas:

  1. Study painters to discover new photographic compositions (Piet Mondrian, Franz Kline).
  2. Best photography composers: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Josef Koudelka, W. Eugene Smith
  3. To improve your composition, keep practicing. I find shooting with a phone the easiest and simplest way to practice your composition of shapes and forms.
  4. When you’re shooting a scene, seek to SIMPLIFY the composition. Generally speaking the simpler the composition, the stronger the composition is.
  5. Follow your gut: There isn’t a science in composition. Divide your frame and balance the different visual elements in your photo in a way that feels good to you.
  6. Never stop shooting: You will never make a perfect composition. But always strive to improve your compositions to drive you forward.
  7. Just shoot it: Don’t over complexify photography. Just have fun with it!


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